December 31, 2012

'12 Platty's

This thing again.

Just in the nick of time, we've got another round of arbitrary local skateboard shout-outs, awards, or whatever else you wish to call them. Time flew, once again, so let's look back, throwing shakas like we're on a jet-ski; here we go. 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Platty's are there, there, there and there.

Another Steve Nesser Power Move: Familia HQ.

Trick of the Year: Pat Gallaher, switch tailslide at Wells Fargo.

The Foundation: Married With Children.

"You Say Potato, I Say Potato:" Home Grown and Debris, or vice versa.

Prodigal Son: Tucker Gerrick.

Have You Seen Him?: Benji Meyer.

A Fine Wine: Chad Benson.

Most Reputable Reps: Andy Conrad and Matt Parker.

Soon To Be Radder Dad: Adam Bovee.

Best Hashtag/Dream: #ChilisInNE

Friends Section All Star: Eddie Kochendorfer.

Memories: The weird perfection of SLP.


Back in 2013?: Backyard Ramp Jam, "Beer Up, Bro Down," etc.

2 Punk 2 Blog: Devolve Project.

You See That?: Jesse Kruger and Corey Millett.

Shake-Up: 3rd Lair.

25 Years, Tomorrow!: Calsurf.

Under-used Thrasher Clothing Model: Davis Torgerson.

Skater's Skater: Aaron Christensen.

He Still Skates?: Me.

How High Can You Ollie?: David Nelson versus Kirian Stone versus TJ Moran.

How High Can You Switchflip?: Kirian Stone.

Didn't Fear The Beard: CJ Tambornino.

Best Reprise: Todd Brown as Ian Steig in Filler 2D.

Once More, With Earnest!: Dan Jackson.

Successful Infiltration: David Fink.

Onto 11 Years: This Website.

Glad To Have You Back: Jeremy Reeves.

Film School: Mike Ohman.

Have You Seen Him Too?: Elijah Collard.

Best Comeback: Ben Ragsdale.

Best Local Video Part: Jan Jacobson.

Cleanest One Financial Move Ever: Jan Jacobson.

Style Pick/Film A Whole Part, Man!: Vinnie Nanthavongsa.

Actually On Twitter?: Dana Ross.

You Should Know It's Local: Send Help.

Clip In Every Video: Rob Sissi.

Dive Bar To Call Home: Vegas Lounge.

MinneSOTY: Alec Majerus.

December 28, 2012

His Way

Fully Flared is more than five years old and has receded into memory perhaps faster than expected for what, even at the time, was thought to possibly be the "Last Big Video." We've seen how that line of thinking has worked out.

Written off at the time, Anthony Pappalardo's section seemed, at worst, a middling effort from a veteran, if not actually aging pro, at best, an idiosyncratic part form a newly idiosyncratic dude, a bad brained outlier in a day-glo late-mid-aughts blockbuster. Yet, with the distance of years, Pappalardo's effort comes off as another piece in the Pops puzzle, the evolution of a veteran, if not aging pro, who might be fed up with skating ledges all day. In no way did it seem like the end nor a prelude to a pro shoe on a different company, but things aren't always as they seem, right?

Pop's subsequent disappearance from Pretty Sweet posters earlier this fall, before the video premiered, seemed to be confirmation of all the worst rumors, Internet or otherwise. In what appears to have been a long process, 48 Blocks tracked down Pappalardo for a year-ending interview*, disabled comments and all. The interview answers some questions while, at times, creating more, at the very least explaining (from one point of view) why a dude who clearly had more in the tank so swiftly fell off the radar. Two quick hits, first, on his relationship with Cons (quotes are unedited with brackets only for clarity):

"People don’t realize this, and I dont really know how not, that if you’re not 15 living in your parents house anymore, that when people stop paying you to ride a skateboard, that’s it. You can’t put the time and effort to worry about trying to film some trick you thought of… all that goes out the window. That window…that’s the whole point of sponsorship, within 24 hours of that call [from Cons] I was literally stressing about how I was gonna eat that night. Living on nothing but purely survival instincts, and the most frustrating part of it, is nobody knowing that, living this double life, a lie in the sense that I’m out there still trying to live up to those expectations of just being a pro skater , but it’s not possible – believe me, I tried. I really fucking tried, and that was just basically the hell of what has been the past two and a half years of my life and this is the sketchy way they were able to get away with doing that to me – a couple hours later that night, I get a text 'Anthony, I really feel bad for how this worked out, so I’m able to offer you this as a contract for the next two years…' It was fucking embarrassing, I was making more being an amateur for Lakai, but backed up against the wall, I had to sign this thing, I had no fucking choice, they just released a shoe."
The truth of pro-skater-recession-economics has never been laid so bare. I've spoken to other pros who've weathered sponsorship droughts by taking menial-to-skilled labor jobs, but it's unnecessarily cynical and unfair to fault Pappalardo for trying to keep the dream alive. Elsewhere in the interview he stresses that skateboarding is all that he knows, without an air of entitlement, but just the longing and perhaps the regret of a man removed, both by his actions and others out of his control.

Speaking about Chocolate, he re-enforces that lack of entitlement:

"Right now, I still get boards from Chocolate. I don’t have any of my own boards out currently and I shouldn’t until I put out of some type of video part and start getting more coverage. Nothing is more logical than those consequences and there isn’t an ounce of bad blood between [me and Chocolate]. Those guys are the last people I would ever point a finger at and honestly, I don’t think they knew the severity of my situation over the past couple years and its exactly how i would be handling the situation if I were them."
My excerpts are only a tiny sampling of what Pops had to say; my two grabs are from the first and final questions, respectively, which probably total to more than 3000 words between the two answers. Be sure to read the full interview, the only link above.

I came upon this interview via Twitter and dudes talking about how sad they thought it was, which it is, to a certain extent. However, Pappalardo comes off as far from broken, no matter how Converse treated him and his confidence (according to him). He speaks as if the end is not nigh, some sort of second or third act just delayed. I'd love to believe him.

*Unable to keep my inner media critic at bay, this interview is a vivid illustration of why email interviews should be avoided if possible, reluctant subjects or not.

December 27, 2012


Glue Factory with its Christmas video above, along with their latest and greatest "ad" below: The kids on Hella Clips weren't quite in on the joke. More to come, gotta watch Debris and Home Grown. Got suggestions for the "hot on Twitter" idea of "MinneSOTY?" Put 'em in the comments.

December 20, 2012

Almost Done

Now is normally the time in which we take stock of the past year and all it held; in fact, if patterns had stayed true, I would have posted the annual Platty's either yesterday or the day before (December 18 or 19) and would have been able to hang it up as a skate blogger into the hangovers of early January. This is not the case this year, what with the dual premiere on Friday timing out my usual award giving and my every-other-year retreat to the desert in order to celebrate my birthday and play tennis; I leave Friday afternoon. Instead of a general black-out of posts until the award season begins/ends with a barrage of blogging and beers, at least on my part, some bullet points until the Platty's go live, sometime in the future:

-Late to the show but on time enough to yell in your ear, the Thrasher/Enjoi Tweak The Beef vid is probably the direction of where all our consumed promotional videos are going short of shelling out up to $13 for a video on iTunes (Pretty Sweet set the bar at the unlucky 13). Heads are scratched regarding in which decade Caswell Berry exists, Ben Raemers is Dom Randazzo-Lite and Lou Barletta does what should be considered the only street frontside invert ever (Twitter had no answers).

-The runner up for "Video of the Year" (the "early" year timing of the Cinematographer Project was unfortunate), DGK's Parental Advisory, is a panoply of bizarre tween wish fulfillment, jeans evolution unseen since Wenning in the DC Video and damn good skateboarding. Why couldn't Wenning ride for them again? While the skating is all left-on tags and tech and really good, the well-produced skits and interludes are what make the video memorable. They're reminiscent of the talk in-between the tracks of any decent late 90's hip hop record; absurd, fabulist, a fantasy of anyone who is ready to buy in. Parental Advisroy surpasses all of that last sentence in its incoherence; it gets all Inception with a weird incontinuity, at times Dada (just because). I think I loved it.

-Instagram isn't screwing you over and I'm tired of hearing you whine otherwise. Any service that you give information (photos, words, status updates, etc.) is going to try somehow to monetize your contribution, which means they're going to mine it, sell it, or otherwise farm it out to make money. Stop thinking your picture of pho was worth anything in the first place and just chill; it matters the least to your friends, the first to consume.

December 11, 2012

Debris & Homegrown Double Feature

This will be mega: The almost unprecedented showing of two local skateboard movies produced concurrently by a group of video dudes who managed to break up but remain friends followed by an after party at one of the finest dive-bars in town. Lucky us.

That said, it's getting tougher and tougher to find theaters in town that A: are affordable enough for skateboard video premieres and B: want to show skateboard video premieres in the first place. Word's spread around town that people tag stuff and break stuff and leave a ton of empty beer containers at theaters that hold premieres, so don't do that. Tim Fulton, Pete Spooner and Phil Schwartz have a sizable deposit on the theatre, so don't be a jerk. The beer's going to be colder at the Vegas Lounge, anyways.

Fulton just put together a pre-premiere bonus section for Home Grown, peep:

December 10, 2012

Another Shoe Drops

Scan nabbed from Chrome Ball.

One week ago we rounded up the recent chatter about corporate infiltration in skateboarding and today there is this: New Balance will make skateboard shoes, distributed by Black Box Distribution.

Highlights from the link above:

“I have always found the heritage and integrity of New Balance inspirational, therefore it’s truly an honor for Black Box to partner with New Balance on the New Balance Numeric project,” says Jamie Thomas, Black Box company founder and professional skateboarder.
For the creative direction and design of New Balance Numeric, Black Box has partnered with Los Angeles based Westlife Distribution, to ensure the collection will bring a distinct new perspective to the skateboarding market.

“The vision for New Balance Numeric is to bring something unique to skateboarding. We combine the East Coast heritage and supreme workmanship of New Balance with the West Coast lifestyle and culture of Skateboarding,” says Michael Akira West, President & CEO at Westlife Distribution.

Aside from the creepy PR speak, does any of this matter (when a lot of folks around here, yesterday, were praising Alec Majerus and Davis Torgerson, who placed one and two, respectively, at Tampa Am, presented by Nike)?

By all accounts, the skateboard industry has been suffering, Black Box being no exception. Call this a hail mary or a shrewd business move, plenty of companies have been shuttered or re-aligned in the past year, so sometimes any action is good action. Does New Balance deserve credit for entering the skate game through a well respected distribution house? I don't know. Yes, there is the odd involvement of the snowboard clothing distributor but that's probably just to get into more storefronts.

All this is still business, after all.

There's another angle I was vaguely aware of, but didn't have in mind yesterday: New Balance shoes are made in the USA. Neal Boyd, aka @grimcity, posted an email he'd written to New Balance regarding any possible future foray into the skate shoe biz on the Slap Message Board from last month. His prescience is amazing. (Edit: In my exuberance to update this post, I missed that the message board posting is four years old. The crux of what's below is still the same, but consider me blushing. I left my incremental edits of me getting the timeline correct.)

Once again, the main bits. Says Boyd:

A large number of us in the skate community have been feeling a bit disenfranchised by both the large and small skateboard shoe companies out there, in large part because of the fact that every single brand of shoes designed for skateboarding is made outside of the USA... even down to socially conscious and eco-friendly companies such as Simple.
He goes on to detail how some companies have failed and succeeded at getting into skateboard shoes, before concluding:
I've often said that if I could find an American made skate shoe that also happened to be a quality product, I'd pick it up in a heartbeat. I write this as both a skateboarder and informed consumer.
Here's the bulk of New Balance's response from the time:
Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I don't believe we are considering moving into the skateboarding realm at this time, but I have forwarded your comments to our product managers and developers for their review. We are always looking for ways to improve our product line and meet the needs of the consumer. We do still manufacture shoes in the US, and we are always trying to increase the number of styles we produce here. If we feel that skateboarding shoes are a good fit and an opportunity we feel we should pursue, then we will certainly do so. We appreciate you taking the time to share your passion for skateboarding with us.
The email exchange isn't dated, but it's easy to assume it was fairly recent but according to Boyd it took place four years ago (his prescience has been upgraded to INSANE). Concerns about where skate shoes are manufactured rarely goes beyond the sweatshop discussion and the outsourcing of the manufacture of both decks and shoes is blithely accepted by most as an economic imperative (now's a good time to point out that Send Help is keeping it close to home).

Perhaps Boyd's most important point is, "I write this as both a skateboarder and informed consumer." If the original take-away of this post was to remember there's a very real business side of skateboarding, than the take-away of this update is to remember the consumer side, in which, one way or another, we all participate.

December 5, 2012

Community Organizing

This is not the Front St. Skatepark, but close.

The civically minded among us should go to the next Front Skatepark planning meeting, which is December 11, this next Tuesday, at the North Dale Community Center, at 6:40 p.m. Thanks to Dan Rusin for the heads up (follow him on the Twitter @DanRusin).

December 3, 2012


"Scared money don't make none," or so I thought.

For the moment, skateboard culture cares once more that big, non-skateboard related corporations and entities are involved in what has been a multi-billion dollar industry for some time. Short of channeling Chris Hedges* for the argument, or muddling along with my own gray feelings about the issue, here's a bit of an Internet roundup of the recent rumblings about corporate involvement in skateboard world.

A post on Jenkem titled, "How Corporations are Changing Skateboarding and Why It Matters starts and started the discussion. It presents some newish and interesting information about the current state of the game, though lacks a real call to action and isn't exactly strong in its argument. The ender quote:

"If the corporations continue to increase their hold of skateboarding the ramifications for skateboarding in terms of culture, space, and economics will be huge. Instead of waiting to see Mango’s next creative part, the hijinks of the Baker Boys or the adventure of Wallner’s next skate-documentary we will be stuck watching Alex Klein attempt to sell competitive skateboarding to outsiders and Sheckler win at skateboarding by being the “best”. Rather than being anomalies these skaters will become the norm if we return to the world of corporate skateboarding, and we will end up in a worse spot than we were in the 1980s when Vallely, Rocco, Gonzales, and others all first rebelled against corporate control."
Piggybacking on Jenkem, Marc Johnson, possible two-term SOTY, wrote a bit of a screed on Instagram, citing the Jenkem piece. I'm quite loathe to call out MJ, whose skateboarding I hold in extremely geeky high-esteem (see the post below), but come on, man, some of your best friends are friends of corporations (aren't corporations people!?). The entirety:
"For everyone here who rides a skateboard, and buys skate products, I just read a disturbing article on about how corporations are changing skateboarding and why it matters. PLEASE READ THIS, and think about the stuff you buy. I promise you this article will piss you off, and it might influence the way you make your purchasing decisions from here on out. Read it 4 or 5 times and let it sink in. And please feel free to discuss. Thank you to the 10,000 awesome people that check my posts! My point is something like this: When you spend your money in certain products, you give your power away to people who want to take what you love, and change it into something you will not like whatsoever. Make smart buying choices, and support brands that ACTUALLY LOVE SKATEBOARDING, not corporations who bought into skateboarding and are changing it to fit a business model that makes them the most money. Most of these corporations have nothing to do with the stuff you love and they don't have skateboarding roots whatsoever. Read on, and tell me what you think."
Finally, there's an interesting diatribe from The Hundreds, playing off the above Jenkem piece once more, coming with a chipped shoulder and an ax to grind, mixed metaphors be damned. Early and lucidly:
"[T]he hard truth is that the essay should’ve been called “How Corporations CHANGED Skateboarding…” because the author beats a horse that died 10 years ago. It’s old news, dude, and don’t you dare pretend like we didn’t watch this happen right before our eyes. We let the swooshes and the stripes take over the slats, and we signed off on the energy drinks. We turned our heads and giggled sheepishly because everyone was making money and although it wasn’t right, “Come on man, I got bills to pay.”

"Which is totally fine. I do too. But don’t go bitch and cry about your stolen skateboard when you let a stranger borrow it for $1."

And then this, which isn't as self-contradictory as it seems, hat tip and total recognition to Kyle Beachy and his "The Most Fun Thing," I'm lifting the same quote:
"[M]ost of all, here’s this, skate companies. Stop trying to define what Skateboarding is. Because Skateboarding’s always been about what isn’t, and that’s why you fell in love with it. As much as I long for the dangerous elements, the so underground that it’s 6-feet-underground, the poor and pure charm of the broken ‘90s skate industry, Skateboarding will never be the same by virtue of everything it stands for. Skateboarding is up for grabs. So stop talking and start taking. Skateboarding doesn’t belong to companies, it belongs to the people. If it really means that much to you, then how could you let this happen?"

In rebuttal to the above, if you didn't click the Beachy link up there, here's Beachy with a pretty instructive bit of advice:

"Stop taking. Start giving. Keep talking. Dicks."
That's pretty good advice, for all of us.

*I saw Hedges speak near the end of the aughts at the University of Minnesota, and if you want a chance to freak out about corporatism in the real world, he's your ticket. His rhetoric will either entice or repulse you, but either way, you'll think (Skateboard world isn't as complicated. Buy small and support small, if you care to do so).

Edit: Click here for interesting links from 20 years ago.